Abstract concepts and aging: An embodied and grounded perspective

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Borghi, Anna M.
Setti, Annalisa
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Frontiers Media
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How do we represent abstract concepts, as “justice” and “phantasy”? This issue has become hotly debated within embodied and grounded cognition views (for reviews: Pecher et al., 2011; Dove, 2016; Borghi et al., 2017). It is in fact unclear how such views can explain how we represent concepts that do not have single concrete referents and are rather detached from sensory experience (Barsalou, 2003; Binder, 2016). In spite of the increasing interest for this issue, to date evidence on abstract concepts across the lifespan is limited. Assuming that the representation of abstract concepts changes from adulthood to older age, in this paper we discuss how a new embodied and grounded proposal, the Words As social Tools (WAT) view (Borghi and Binkofski, 2014), can explain how abstract concepts are represented by older individuals. More specifically we will advance hypotheses on abstract concepts in aging focusing on WAT, and reinterpret previous findings in light of it. We propose that WAT can account for existing findings and provide a suitable framework to test conceptual knowledge in older adults
Abstract concepts , Abstract words , Words as tools , Aging , Elderly , Embodied cognition , Grounded cognition
Borghi, A. M. and Setti, A. (2017) 'Abstract Concepts and Aging: An Embodied and Grounded Perspective', Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 430 (4pp). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00430